You know, I had a hard time evaluating the vanilla teas from GM, and I’m having a hard time evaluating this one, too. On the one hand, I really do like the creamy warmth of actual vanilla. On the other, I am beginning to think that it’s difficult to represent it at a strength sufficient to contend with black tea whilst also avoiding the risk of an aftertaste that isn’t necessarily flattering.
That aside, I’m enjoying my cup. The aroma of the tea itself is heavenly. Harney’s description of the tea, while enchanting, is completely inaccurate for me — I didn’t ever spend any time in the winter baking sugar cookies with my grandmother, and if they’d known any of the three women I called variations of the name ‘granny’, they would probably kill themselves laughing at the very thought — but if I had, then perhaps it would’ve smelled like this. It’s a nice, musky, low vanilla scent, not the super-sweet vanilla of confectionary. Vanilla is one of those flavors that, when most natural, makes me think of…thick-petaled flowers with sweet, oily scents, sitting in pots half-hidden in shadow in a warm, dark room, in which the only lighting comes from a low-burning fireplace. It’s sweet and shadows, but warm shadows.
It isn’t completely overpowering, either. The aroma is stronger than the flavor, but only by a hair. I’m drinking this plain because I want to see what the tea does in my mouth, because of this aforementioned inclination for vanilla to leave an aftertaste…and, sure enough, it does have one — even high-quality vanilla-bean ice cream does, so that is by no means the fault of the tea — though it certainly wouldn’t prevent me from having another cup.
It’s good enough that I think my next go-around I’ll be sipping it with some sugar to see if that decreases the tang in the aftertaste. I expect that a tiny bit of sweetener will elevate this from being merely a warm-fuzzy cup of comforting tea to a real treat that borders on indulgence.